Choosing a Childbirth Class

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Choosing a Childbirth Class
(International Childbirth
Education Association)
Unlike Lamaze or Bradley, ICEA classes refer not to a single approach but to a host of them. The well-respected institute certifies its own instructors, but individual teaching methods and materials vary. Usually mother-to-be are exposed to a range of strategies (medicated and nonmedicated) for working through the pain and avoiding panic.
No drugs
during childbirth
Avoid unnecessary medical /technological intervention during childbirth
The Bradley Method: (husband-coached childbirth)
The aim here is to view birth as a natural process requiring no drugs, with the partner involved as coach. The emphasis is on both parents working together to actively ride through the pain (rather than control it). This is done through guided visualization, open-mouthed abdominal breathing, extensive coach training, and much outside reading. Unlike in most classes, you won't hear much about epidurals or painkillers. The classes, which meet over 12 weeks, are taught usually by couples who used the method. Bradley is a good option if you're sure you want to try natural childbirth, or if you're planning to deliver at a maternity center that provides no epidurals.
The goal of the most widely used method is to avoid unnecessary medical /technological intervention during childbirth, though most courses include a thorough overview of anesthesia, pain relief, and hospital routines. A host of relaxation methods are introduced, including visualization, guided imagery, massage, and verbal coaching from partners. The centerpiece of Lamaze's mind-over-matter approach is patterned breathing exercises that, taught to become a conditioned response during the various states of labor, help the mother feel a crucial sense of control over her contractions. Be aware that the term "Lamaze" is bandied about generically these days; for the real McCoy, look for a teacher who is certified by the American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics (ASPO/Lamaze) and who uses the initials ACCE (ASPO-certified childbirth educator) after her name.
Range of strategies
(medicated and

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